William Sheridan Westneat

William Sheridan Westneat was born in the middle of the Indian Ocean on September 24, 1849, two days after the passing of his older brother John. He spent the first 6 weeks of his life surround by water and a large group of people in the last stages of their claustrophobic containment on the James T. Foord.  William and his parents would eventually settle in Prahran a small town outside of Melbourne were he was joined over the years by three younger brothers. During his childhood he was known to friends and family as Sherry.  As a young man, he soon met and married Priscelia Luce who had been born on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. Her father, Francis John Luce and her mother Susannah Defries Luce had come to Australia in 1852.

William Sheridan and Priscelia Luce Westneat

William Sheridan Westneat remained in Prahran and made his living doing various forms of printing. At times, he also served as a reporter for the Prahram Telegraph. At the age of 50, William Sheridan Westneat listed his trade as "printer" and at his death in 1919, his trade was listed as "compositor". One of the titles found that William published was a book by John Atkins entitled "Notes on the Mining Statute, 1865"  published in 1871.  He was a musical man who led the Prahran City Band for a number of years. It has been said that he could write out a full score for all the instruments in a composition for a band by reading the score for just one instrument.

Together, William and Priscelia raised 6 children in Prahran. David F. Westneat in his research also found evidence of another birth. "There is a curious anomaly in our information about their family. In the recollections of relatives and descendants, there is reference to Priscelia giving birth, in 1889, to twins, who lived for only a few months. However, the official records of births and deaths in Victoria contain no reference to these children.  It is not clear why there is this discrepancy"    

On 18 October, 1891, Priscelia died at home, 29 King Street,  Prahran. She was buried at St. Kilda Cemetery with her father Francis John Luce.

Prescelia 1.jpg (245435 bytes)Prescelia 2.jpg (290461 bytes)

Registry of Priscelia's death

For the next 7 years, William Sheridan raised his family at 29 King Street, Prahran. Verbal family histories indicate that this was indeed a turbulent time for this family. Malvina took over the duties of running the household. Arthur remained in conflict with his father and at the age of 15, a year after his mother's passing, Arthur left home but remained in the Prahran area until at least 1897. At some point in 1898/1899 William Sheridan Westneat moved from the family home at 29 King Street and into the home of John and Ellen Flentjar. The reasoning for this move is unknown, but shortly after this move, William deeds the property at 29 King Street over to his eldest child Malvina.


Billy, William's oldest son, is shown living at the 12 King Street address at the age of 24 in the 1899 Roll of Voters in Victoria. It is believed that William had moved out of that house and in with the Flentjars by that time.  It is also believed that the girls were all living at the 12 King Street address as well.


Page 1